350 km/h (217 mph) China Standard HSR Trains Unveiled

CRH350 China Trains

CRRC Corporation Ltd has rolled out its 350 km/h (217 mph) China Standard HSR trainsets today, 30 June 2015, which coincidentally also marks the 4th anniversary of the Beijing-Shanghai HSR entering into service.

The new trainsets are real Chinese HSR trains — unlike their earlier brethren, in particular early-stage CRH2 and CRH3 trains, they are fully Chinese and were built to Chinese conditions. Their designs are both in earth tan and sky blue.

This site interprets that both colours have very significant meanings in China — both the earth and the Yellow River are associated with the former, whereas the blue resembles something closer to the skies, and also is the colour of the sky, as well as being the flagship colour of Chinese HSR (regular rail uses green and yellow instead).

These trains have been developed since 2012 and were built to Chinese standards and situations. For example, for a country the dimensions of China, trains must run over long distances and run at increased frequencies, carrying more people. The national HSR network also stretches into very complex climates — deserts, “deep freeze” temperatures (-30°C to -40°C in winter), and also runs mostly on bridges, but also in tunnels. Technical improvements have also been made to reduce operating costs. But safety is still very big: the new trainsets permit greater “safety redundancy”, which in the Chinese railway system since 2011 means placing a much greater focus on safety, as well as to avoid any possible dangers caused by running trains close to extreme safety limits.

The new trains run in a three-class configuration. 3+2 seating is used in Second Class, 2+2 in First, and 1+2 or at times 1+1 in Business Class. First and Second Class passengers now have more space to stretch their legs. The somewhat annoying “immovable” semi-sofas at the ends of older trains have been removed in favour of Business Class seats. Seats have also been recoloured on some trains, so a unifying colour scheme does not appear to be used here. The Business Class seats at the ends of the trains no longer include see-through glass panes to allow people to see how these trains are operated. There are also foldable seats to accommodate reduced mobility passengers (eg those using wheelchairs), and the larger baggage racks has seen improvements. Finally, all seats now include a digital mini-display on top, so to let riders see which seats have been sold, and which remain unsold. Wifi connectivity is also available on all trains by default.

These trains also use standards compatible with overseas markets, so we could be seeing these trains being exported overseas as well.

There do not appear to be dates as to when these trains will enter passenger service, although with the last round of new trains, these trains entered service just around a year after they were first revealed to the public, and in some cases, as early as within half a year.

The picture used in this article has been used with permission. Credit: CRRC

David Feng

David Feng — founder and publisher, Tracking China, a Street Level China website.

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